Anti-Patterns in the Daily Standup and their remedies

Daily Standup Anti-patterns

In Scrum we use 15 minutes each day to satisfy our daily planning as per the most inner-side if the planning onion. The prime objective in these short time-boxed meetings is for team members to collaborate briefly around their commitments for yesterday and today, and to illuminate impediments so that these blockers can be removed as soon as is possible.

Most Scrum practitioners would attest to the fact that teams in their Storming phase has many teething issues in most of the Scrum ceremonies, but it is especially magnified in the daily Standup (or daily Scrum). This is ascribed to the extremely short time allocated to this ritual and also to the stringent focus on the current state of affairs.
The Daily Standups that are less than 15 minutes where team members take less than a minute each to answer the three questions of “what did I do yesterday to help the team achieve our goal”, “how am I planning to aid the team in achieving our goal today” and “what is in my way of success”. In addition, such teams know that break-away sessions to discuss technical matter are nipped in the bud promptly and resumed after the Standup.

Anti-Patterns in the Daily Standup Ceremony

The list can probably spans across books, but to get you thinking along the correct lines, here are my top anti-patterns and how to address them:
  1. Standup takes longer than 15 minutes. 
    • Chances are your team members are talking wider than the scope of the meeting and there is a lack of focus and discipline.
    • It could also be that Project Managers and other interested parties are asking questions or initiating conversations with the team. Address these issues through coaching the team on the correct way of conducting this ceremony, and keep enforcing it daily.
    • It’s definitely a learning process, but it’s up to us coaches to speed up the process so that we can enjoy good Agile.
    • Alternatively your team is larger than the Scrum recommended of seven plus or minus two people.
  2. “Chickens” (uncommitted stakeholders) want status updates and cause interruption.
    • You know only the people that committed to the Sprint backlog can talk, so ask these people politely to listen in order to get their updates, and to get more info after the Standup.
    • Let them know how the Standup is conducted an ask them to respect these rules.
  3. The burn-down chart is flat lining.
    • Your stories are dependent on manual testing that only happens at the end of the sprint. You need to start automating tests and deliver one user story every few days. Swarm on one story until it can be tested, then move on. Many teams in the Storming phase battle with this concept,man requires lot’s of coaching.
  4. The cards on the wall are not moving.
    • Firstly, point out to your team members that they should be talking to a card with the audience while moving the cards.
    • If cards are not moving daily they are either mire than 8 hours or the person working on it has impediments that are not being reported as such.
    • If there are no cards and only user stories, then refer back to your basic Scrum Master training.
  5. Team members are busy on their phones while the ceremony is in motion.
    • Again this is not acceptable, people should be focusing on what is being said to know how and when they will be impacted, and to find opportunity for collaboration around the definition of done.
    • Agree in the Team Charter that full and equal participation is required.
    • Call out the behavior and ask for cooperation.
  6. The Scrum team arrives late.
    • There is no excuse for such behavior, it shows disrespect to others’ time. The team should have a fine system or similar subtle ‘punishment’ system in place. E.g. R5 for being late, and the team decides what to do with the proceeds.
  7. Scrum Master project manages the Ritual
    • Whilst coaching and Scrum Mastering teams I sometimes see that the Scrum Master (ex Project Manager) is still in the habit of asking each team member what he was working on and what she will be working on today (controlling the Ritual). Should something still be in progress, the Scrum Master would ask for the amount of hours left, and query the estimate as it no longer matches the figure that was entered at Sprint Planning. (We make decisions on what we know now, remember?).
    • Always remember that the team provides their updates to their peers in the team and not to the Scrum Master or Product Owner.
Can you add more anti-patterns to the list? Please share your comments below.

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